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Hot, bothered & broke: How to insure yourself against pricey summer mishaps

Irish families who have been forced to cancel their summer holidays this year due to passport backlogs have little chance of getting the money spent on their trip back.

ravel insurance won’t typically cover you in the event that you have to cancel your holiday due to long delays processing your passport application – even if you applied for your passport months ahead of time. The Passport Office won’t foot the bill for any canceled holiday either.

“The Passport Service does not provide compensation to people who may have had to cancel travel,” said a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

You could lose out on thousands if you have to cancel your holiday on foot of passport delays – if you have paid for that trip in advance. When contacted by The Sunday Independent, Getcover.ie, VHI Multitrip, Blue Insurance’s multitrip.com, Laya Travel Insurance and the travel insurance underwriter, Mapfre Assistance said there would be no cover for canceled holidays in such a scenario.

“We cannot cover the delayed arrival of your passport,” said a spokesman for Mapfre. “A specific exclusion in our policies is any claim resulting from your failure to hold or obtain a valid passport in advance of your trip”.

You may be able to carry forward your holiday if your passport is unlikely to arrive on time – so explore this with your travel agent, airline or accommodation provider. However, don’t leave it until the last minute to do so.

The Irish passport delays are just one example of why you might lose out financially this summer. So why else might you run into a financial mishap this summer – and will your insurance cover you if you do?

airport queue chaos

Your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you in the event that you miss your flight as a result of lengthy airport security queues – and you end up canceling your holiday as a result. Getcover.ie, VHI Multitrip, multitrip.com, Laya and Mapfre Assistance said they would offer no cancellation cover here.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) says it will refund reasonable out-of-pocket expenses (such as a rebooked flight, additional accommodation and transport costs) incurred as a result of the recent lengthy security queues at the airport – which saw around 1,500 passengers miss their flights in the last weekend of May.

Bouncy castle injury

You could face a court case if a child is injured when playing on a bouncy castle in your garden.

“Ideally only use a bouncy castle company that has insurance – but note that many bouncy castle companies can’t get insurance today,” said Jonathan Hehir, managing director of the online insurance broker, coverinaclick.ie.

“If you get sued by a parent because their kid got injured while playing on a bouncy castle in your garden, the parent has to prove negligence on your part. You could be looking at a court case if a child got injured on a bouncy castle in your garden and you – or the bouncy castle company – got sued as a result.”

Your home insurance may cover you in the event that a child gets injured when on a bouncy castle in your garden, depending on your insurer and the conditions of your policy. FBD and Liberty Insurance will not cover you in such instances. The personal liability cover offered under Liberty’s home insurance “excludes liability arising from the use of entertainment equipment or facilities provided by someone else in connection with a social event”. (Personal liability cover protects you in the event that you’re responsible for injuries to others).

Aviva and Allianz typically will cover injuries on bouncy castles though they may refuse to pay out if the injuries arose as a result of your own negligence.

“Our home insurance indemnifies customers against all accidental bodily harm arising at their premises, provided all reasonable due care was taken,” said a spokeswoman for Aviva.

“In the case of bouncy castles, it is the home owner’s responsibility to ensure the area is free from trip hazards, that children are supervised by a responsible adult and that any safety instructions given by the bouncy castle provider are followed.”

break in

Some of the most common summer insurance claims are prompted by break-ins, according to Hehir.

“When people go away on holidays, burglars seem to know when they’re away,” said Hehir. “It’s very important to check that you haven’t underinsured your contents before you head away on holiday.”

You may have underinsured your contents if you weren’t fully aware of the true value of those possessions when initially getting home insurance – or you may have not adjusted your contents cover over the years to take account of any new contents you have in your home .

Failure to insure the contents in your home for the correct amount could see you only getting a fraction of the payout you expect from your insurer if claiming after a burglary.

ride-on lawnmower

A ride-on lawnmower is one of the more expensive pieces of garden equipment you may have.

Be careful about leaving your ride-on unattended on the lawn. Some home insurers – including Aviva – will only cover theft of a ride-on lawnmower if it’s stolen from a locked shed.

Check what your insurer’s position is around this.

“In a situation where a homeowner very briefly leaves a ride-on lawnmower unattended while using it, our home insurance policy provides cover under the contents section of the policy,” said a spokesman for Allianz.

Even if your home insurance covers the theft of contents left out in the open (such as in the garden), any payout received could only be a fraction of the cost of a ride-on lawnmower. FBD and Liberty for example offer €650 cover for contents left out in the open.

car windows down

On hot summer days, it’s not unusual to leave the windows down in your car – but be aware that your car insurance may not cover you in the event that a thief steals your car after you have done so.

“If you left the windows down and the engine running or the keys in the car, you’re not covered,” said Hehir. “But if you just left windows down [without the engine running or keys in car] and the thieves managed to start the engine themselves, you usually would be covered.”

This will depend on your insurer though – and whether or not it believes you have taken all reasonable steps to safeguard your car.

FBD for example would not cover a theft in such a scenario as the conditions of its car insurance policy state that the insured’s car “must never be left unattended or unlocked with keys still inside the car or any window or sunroof open”.

A spokesman for Allianz said: “If the keys were left in the car or it was left unlocked, then a claim is unlikely to be paid. So always be sure to securely lock your vehicle even if you are leaving it for just a few minutes.”

car beach trouble

You may park on a beach at some stage over the summer – however don’t assume your insurer will cover you if you head off for a walk and return to find your car submerged in the incoming tide.

You may be covered for the loss of, or damage to, your car in such instances if you have comprehensive cover – depending on whether or not your insurer believes you have taken all reasonable care to protect your car.

“If the insured ought to have known the tide was due in but left their car on the beach and damage occurred, we would have to factor that into any decision on a claim,” said a spokesman for Allianz.

Note if your car is damaged beyond repair, your insurer will only cover the market value of the car.

As always, know where you stand with your insurer.

stolen pet

The recent pandemic pet boom has pushed up the price of puppies and certain breeds of cat – with some pet price tags now running into the thousands.

Be aware that home insurance won’t usually cover you if your pet is stolen from your home or garden over the summer. You will need pet insurance to cover you here.

dog-bite

Home insurance will generally cover you if a visitor to your home is bitten by the family dog ​​– as long as your dog is not listed as a restricted breed under the dog control regulations.

BBQ fire out of control

The huge increase in the cost of building materials in recent months could catch homeowners out this summer if there’s any damage to their home as a result of a BBQ fire getting out of control.

“Many Irish homeowners could potentially be underinsured on their properties due to the sudden and unexpected increase in the cost of building materials,” said a spokesman for Allianz.

The buildings sum insured is the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch in the event that it is destroyed. The figure you chose when you bought or last reviewed your policy may not reflect the current costs of repair or rebuilding at today’s rates. You are at risk of only getting a fraction of the pay-out you expect from your insurer if your house is damaged and you have underinsured your home.

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